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What to Do If You Crack a Tooth

Dec 06, 2023
Whether you’ve gotten an injury, or dealing with dental problems, getting a cracked tooth can be painful and create other issues. Read on to find out how to care for a cracked tooth until medical help is necessary.

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the similarities and differences between bones and teeth. Both parts of the body contain over 99% of the calcium you have, and enamel is the strongest material you produce in teeth, but they differ in many ways. Teeth, unlike bones, are not living tissue, meaning they don’t heal when damaged like bones do. This means if you damage teeth by physical injury or dental disease, teeth cannot heal the damage, and things will likely only worsen.

One common dental problem is fractured or cracked teeth, leading to further damage if not cared for properly. Let’s examine how to manage this condition by examining what can cause cracked teeth, some basic tips for coping with it, and what medical options are available. If you live in Sacramento, California, and have cracked teeth or other dental conditions affecting your health, Dr. Peter Kim and his staff at Sierra Oaks Dental can help.

Causes of a cracked tooth

Cracks in teeth can affect any part of it, including the part of the tooth you see (crown) and the part that extends into your gums (root). Cracked teeth appear in different ways: craze lines, fractured cusp, split tooth, vertical root fracture, and cracks that reach into your gum line. While they can be very painful, if the fracture is minor it may be asymptomatic. When signs do appear, you will experience things like sensitivity to heat and cold, intermittent pain, gum swelling, and pain when chewing or biting into food. This can happen for several reasons, including:

  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Fillings that weaken the integrity of the tooth
  • Chewing or biting hard foods (candy, ice, nuts)
  • Impact from sports injury or physical altercation
  • Age, with many people dealing with it being over 50 

How to care for a cracked tooth

Here are some basic things you can do to cope with a cracked tooth: 

Pain management

Over the counter medications, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can help to reduce pain in a cracked tooth, while oral anesthetics like benzocaine and lidocaine can help to numb the affected tooth.


This will help to reduce any food particles or other substances from between teeth, preventing the problem from worsening. However, you need to be wary of getting too close to the areas of the tooth directly affected by the fracture.

Sleeping habits

Exposed nerves in teeth often become inflamed with cracked teeth, which can lead to severe and throbbing pain. Sleeping with your head elevated can help to reduce pressure and relieve pain.


Dental rinses

A saltwater rinse twice daily can help to remove bacteria from any infected areas caused by the cracked tooth.

Methods of treatment

If the cracks cause moderate to severe pain, you’ll need to get it looked at. When that happens, the options for treating it include:

  • Root canal: if the fractures get into your tooth root, getting the damaged pulp out helps to keep the tooth from getting weaker
  • Crowns: a cap that covers the fractured tooth made of ceramic or porcelain
  • Bonding: a resin used to fill the fracture in your tooth
  • Contouring: rounding and polishing the tooth to smooth out broken teeth
  • Veneers: a ceramic or porcelain covering fitted on the front of your tooth
  • Extraction: completely removing the tooth if the damage is extensive enough to justify it

Cracks in teeth can be painful and frustrating, but they can be treated, and we’re here to help. Make an appointment with Dr. Kim and Sierra Oaks Dental today to see what we can do to mend your dental health problems.